Autism And Black Children In America Being Diagnosed At A Higher Rate -- And Later -- Than White Kids
“REVOLT Black News Weekly” continues to focus on the important stories the mainstream media ignores. On Friday (April 7), the tragic death of three Black girls in Texas was spotlighted. With global news anchor Mara S. Campo at the helm, also discussed was the disturbing trend of Black women and children going missing throughout the country, police officers quitting in droves, the impact of autism on Black families, and more.
In the troubling case of a child killer in Texas, back in July 2022, three little Black girls, all under the age of 10, were the victims. On the evening of July 29, a Cass County, Texas mother called 911 after being alerted by her babysitter and adult cousin that her daughters — Zi’Ariel Robinson-Oliver, 9, A’Miyah Hughes, 8, and Te’Mari Robinson-Oliver, 5 — “vanished.” A search was quickly organized and around 2 a.m. the next day (July 30), their bodies were recovered from a pond. The cause of death was initially reported as drowning, but eight months later, the DA said it was actually a homicide investigation. An autopsy revealed all three girls were strangled to death and suffered cut to their faces. The children’s mother, Shammaonique Wickerson, told The Daily Beast, “All I want is justice for my babies.”
“RBN” didn’t hear back from the police but did speak to Cass County DA Courtney Shelton. Reportedly, the authorities knew they were dealing with a homicide soon after the tragedy but waited on letting the public know. However, they didn’t say why they delayed sharing the info and, unfortunately, they don’t have a suspect either.
“When you have a death, killing of three little girls, the community should have been notified very quickly,” said forensic pathologist Dr. Joye Carter. “The investigators should be out investigating. They should be looking for evidence, draining that pond… In my opinion, there’s no excuse to have [an eight-month] lapse when three little girls have been killed.” Carter also noted that since the children were strangled to death, evidence could have been found on their bodies. Additionally, she said there have been a lot of unsolved murders of children due to poor investigations and lack of funding.
A search for answers continues in Indianapolis, where a Black mother is pleading for help with finding her missing 17-year-old daughter, Shariah Williams. “The phone just goes straight to voicemail now,” said Alisha Hollowell. “I just need the police to please take this seriously. I’m a very concerned parent about my child, and I need Shariah to be found and brought back home, where she belongs.”
The Indiana student left home for school on Feb. 23, 2023 but never arrived. The high school junior is one of 75,000 missing Black women and children currently in the U.S. Sadly, that number is probably even higher. “One of the things that is really startling about this crisis is the fact that we know that there are more than 75,000 Black women and girls that are missing currently within the United States,” stated Rep. Ruth Richardson, who helped create an office of missing and murdered African-American women in her state of Minnesota. “It is startling because that’s an estimate.”
So dire is the situation that California is proposing an “Ebony Alert” that would notify locals of missing Black women and youth. Too often, the cases involving the aforementioned go unsolved with little help from authorities. In many, the missing are considered “runaways,” which fosters more issues. Unfortunately, when law enforcement classifies you as a runaway — which Hollowell insisted her child is not — the odds of being found go down significantly, as does potential media attention.
Another trend of note is police officers either quitting or retiring across the nation in big enough droves that some cities are declaring state of emergencies. For example, 3,200 officers left the New York Police Department in 2022, the highest number in 20 years. New Orleans PD even announced they would start hiring civilians. To lure in new officers, some police forces are adding incentives like higher pay, while others are considering lowering the age requirement to just 18.
The reason for the drop in officers has been blamed on the rise in crime during the pandemic, violence against cops and morale being down due to anti-police sentiment, especially after the murder of George Floyd.
“I think for Black officers in particular it’s a struggle, it’s a strain,” said Dr. De Lacy Davis, who was a cop in New Jersey for 20 years before taking an early retirement. “This generation that my children are in don’t see police officers in the neighborhood — and when they see them, they’re militarized. When they see them, they’re beating someone down,” added Davis, who founded Black Cops Against Police Brutality in 1991. “I think law enforcement has to examine itself. I believe [wholeheartedly], the police cannot police the police, and so we have to put safeties in place to ensure that police are delivering the services that they were sworn to give to communities, especially those who are marginalized and disenfranchised.”
After the segment on police officers quitting in mass, Campo hosted an intense debate about the cause between Hawk Newsome, a BLM activist, and Brandon Tatum, a former cop, author and radio host. While Newsome argued that “Defund the Police” was just a talking point used by the right wing and cops were scared of accountability, Brandon asserted police officers hated rulebreakers and said the alleged defunding is demoralizing the profession. Let’s just say they barely agreed to disagree.
Other topics addressed in the episode included April being Autism Awareness Month, as the disorder is much more common in Black children than in white kids, but is often diagnosed 1 1/2 years later, leading to delayed treatment. Also, Viola Davis and her husband, Julius Tennon, spoke exclusively about playing Michael Jordan’s parents in the new, Ben Affleck-directed film AIR: Courting A Legend, which brings the story of Nike securing the NBA icon as a spokesman to the big screen.
Be sure to catch new installments of “REVOLT Black News Weekly” every Friday at 5 p.m. ET via REVOLT’s app. Plus watch a quick clip from this week’s episode up top.
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